Why Digital Maturity Is Making MSPs More Competitive

Published September 26, 2022
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Evan Pappas

Becoming an MSP that clients can rely on is a challenge. With businesses becoming more complex, both technically and financially, MSPs need to find ways to bridge the gap between tech services and business planning.

‍For many MSPs, digital maturity advising is a major way to meet growing pressures in the industry and grow even further. MSPs who offer advising services in addition to IT management are able to improve their existing services and attract new business. This puts them in a stronger position against other MSPs who may not be offering such a comprehensive service.

According to a study by the Business Development Bank of Canada, businesses that have not implemented digital technologies don’t perform as well as their modernizing competitors. The study showed that digitally mature companies perform better in most areas such as obtaining financing, growth, and resiliency. 

‍Lane Smith, CEO of Digital Maturity Advisors (DMA), said MSPs he has worked with are looking to find a “blue ocean” strategy to get away from the conventional business model. Experience in digital maturity, using technology and business planning to improve performance, sets MSPs apart from the rest of the competition and helps them earn new business and strengthen existing relationships. 

‍“All your competitors are doing the same thing, they all look like you. The concept of the blue ocean strategy is taking your skillset, look at your market, and figure out how you can shift your strategy so you can enter the blue ocean where you have no competitors,” he said. 

‍MSPs exploring advising are looking to create a path for their MSP’s growth, providing a better service to keep clients longer, and becoming a more competitive MSP. Start a digital transformation to take your MSP to the next level.

Creating new growth opportunities

As MSPs get credentials in advising clients on digital maturity, new avenues of growth open up. When you can offer more than just IT services, your MSP gains value that competitors won’t be able to match. Advising business plans through the lens of technology integration can offer so much to clients looking to make the most of their technology.

‍At DMA, Smith explained that the MSPs they have worked with have seen growth opportunities become reality after working toward improvements in digital maturity.

‍“We look at the business maturity and technical maturity,” Smith said. “Most companies have a pretty high technical maturity in terms of everything running well and MSPs are taking care of them. Companies either have a good business maturity or not, but we know that as long as they have a good foundation, increasing their digital maturity can help the business grow.”

MSPs and clients collaborating on a digital solutions plan can align themselves on using new tools, or taking heavier use of existing strategies the client is relying on. By building a long-term plan with the client, they are able to properly budget technology growth for the near future and plan for how an increased digital maturity will improve their operations. Better internal processes can make business goals easier to accomplish.

‍Some clients may be wary of purchasing a new service from the MSP they already contract with for IT services. Through successful relationship building and increasing your MSP’s digital maturity, MSPs can show clients how they will benefit from a digital transformation. Showing the client how your MSP has improved maturity internally can be a persuasive demonstration of the benefits for their operation.

‍In addition to converting existing clients, advising opens up an MSP to completely new clients that are looking specifically for planning consultants or advisors. A new client could already be working with another MSP, but need advising services that their current MSP doesn’t offer.

Building stronger client relationships

Taking your client relationship to the next level involves a deeper understanding of business development and long term planning. When MSPs get certified in advising, they learn how to collaborate with clients and plan for future technology improvements. This gives them a better understanding of the business as a whole, which helps them provide better IT services.

‍Getting so deep into a client’s business plans and internal operations and tools can make your MSP an essential part of their continued success. An MSP that provides excellent IT services, long-term technology integration and planning, and digital maturity planning will be a valuable asset for clients. Advising capabilities keep an MSP unique and provides them a value most competitors won’t be able to match. 

‍Working so closely with clients deepens the relationship and develops trust between the two parties, which makes leaving a contract with the MSP much less likely. The closer the MSP-client relationship becomes, the more likely it is they may add-on additional services like advising on top of their core IT needs.

A more competitive service offering

The BDC’s digital maturity study showed a clear advantage for businesses, Smith said, and the team at DMA has seen that the businesses pursuing these improvements are seeing benefits both for their own operations and their clients’.

‍“We can start to get the ear of these business owners and say ‘We’ve been doing your technology, but we know business because we’re running successful businesses,’” he said. “‘We’ve got these frameworks in place, we can help your business mature through digital maturity.’ That’s the root of what we are trying to accomplish.”

‍As part of building a long-term technology plan with a client, new upgrades, expansions, or technology refreshes are planned in advance. Your clients can now plan for a predictable schedule of technology purchases, without worrying that their partnered MSP will try to push sales they may not understand or anticipate.

Predictable expenses for the client also mean predictable sales for an MSP. MSPs can rely on a scheduled sales approach over time, without having to worry about pushing new sales with a client and souring the relationship.

‍Tools like ScalePad’s Lifecycle Manager and Backup Radar allow MSPs to generate comprehensive, automated reports that give clients and MSPs the full data to develop strategic plans. MSP can implement new best practices when it comes to health and security of hardware, software, and asset warranties. 

‍Becoming a more competitive business also allows MSPs more opportunities to win new business from clients that may already be working with another MSP. Advising services can be a gateway into a contract with a client who already has an MSP, but through the advising services, clients may be swayed by the internal sophistication and value your MSP provides. Growing into an advisor role also keeps you competitive in the market when fighting for business alongside other advisors.

‍Marketing your MSP is easy with a unique and valuable service offering. With unique marketing of advising services, predictable sales and expenses, and a completely scalable consulting service, MSPs can lead the competition with better and deeper IT services.  

‍MSPs interested in becoming digital maturity advising certified can look into DMA’s advising programs and certifications, which prepare MSPs to deliver business improvement reviews, digital maturity assessments, discovery and planning services, and more. Certified advisors also participate in month group sessions to keep up-to-date on trends and best practices.